Composition Emphasis

Eric Hanson Teaching

Are you a musician who wants to study music composition? SPU's Music degree with an emphasis in Composition offers a rich and rigorous education in music.


Students in the Composition Emphasis, through a series of skill-building exercises and experience with larger and larger forms, whether in class or in private instruction, are prepared for a rich future in music. Students can enter careers such as professional composition, film scoring, and arranging, as well as any careers involving decoding complex symbol systems, creativity, craftsmanship, or discipline.

Major Courses and Degree Requirements

As a Music major with a Composition emphasis, you will follow an integrative approach to advanced musicianship. You will study music theory, aural skills, and music styles and history from early Middle Ages to the 21st century. In addition, you will study music composition, technology, instrumentation, and orchestration. You will have the opportunity to reflect on the integration of music and faith, as well as your sense of vocation, as you study in depth such great works as Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," Brahms' "German Requiem," and Mahler's "Resurrection Symphony."

The minimum total credits required for a major emphasis is 124 quarter credits. The minimum total credits required for degree is 180 quarter credits.

View the major courses and degree requirements.

Admission to the Major

You may apply to the Music major (PDF) when you have completed your freshman year at SPU. To be admitted to the major, you must have earned a 3.0 overall GPA and have decided upon your area of emphasis. Once admitted, you are required to maintain a 2.8 minimum GPA.

Career Opportunities

  • Arranger/Composer
  • Choral Director
  • Church Musician
  • Composer
  • Conductor
  • Film Scorer
  • Music Director
  • Music Librarian
  • Music Professor
  • Music Teacher
  • Musicologist
  • Sound Engineer

Faculty Contact

Stephen Newby

Associate Professor of Music; Director of Composition; Director of the Center for Worship

Phone: 206-281-2938
Office: Crawford 207

Stephen Newby teaching

Why I Teach at SPU

Stephen Newby, Associate Professor of Music and Director of University Ministries and the Center for Worship

"I love to teach music at SPU because I get to equip and nurture the next generation of creators, innovators, inventors and artists. Teaching is an extraordinary gift from God. I believe the Wise Creator is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Therefore, I am blessed to teach."

Daniel Caldwell

An Up-and-coming Composer

“Music is emotion, whether subconscious or explicit, dynamic or textural, inspirational or sobering, music has amazing rhetorical power.”
Daniel Caldwell ’12
B.A. in Music: Composition Emphasis

Explore Daniel's career since his graduation from SPU.